MKL: I sometimes say that when you feel like using a semicolon, lay lie down till the urge goes away. But if you just can’t resist, remember that there are really only two proper uses for this piece of punctuation. One is to separate two complete clauses (a construction with a subject and verb that could stand on its own as a sentence). I knocked on the door; no one answered. The second is to separate list items, which in & of themselves, contain punctuation. Thus, The band played Boise, Idaho; Schenectady, New York; and Columbus, Ohio.
Do not use a semicolon in place of a colon, for example, There is only one piece of punctuation that gives Yagoda nightmares; the semicolon.
“Semicolons should be used rarely, if at all. And beware dangling modifiers!”
MLK: That’s a quote.
BL: He addresses many of my pet peeves, though I have to admit I still struggle with “lie” and “lay.”
MKL: My chair read an application and changed “composed of” to “comprised of”, and I accepted the change without thinking. Maybe I'll get those grants anyway???
BL: I think the grant committee will miss that one.
RC: OMG, “comprise” is one of my own pet peeves. I’ve been known to correct people misusing it mid-sentence.
FP: It’s a bit obvious though.
MKL: Maybe in British English. I’m not sure Americans ever use it outside of the phrase “is comprised of”.
SWN: I don’t care what the rules are, though I’m glad to hear them; I love semi-colons!
MKL: Lie down until the urge passes!
APL: Used no more than once a page or so, a semi-colon is an elegant way to separate two clauses.
RC: This inspired me to take a look at the paper I turned in today. In 22 pages, I used two semi-colons. One usage was clearly correct, but the second seems a bit suspect. I guess that's not too bad.
MKL: APL, Only if they’re - very - closely related. And I would say every five pages or so. My students have been known to use several in a single sentence.
DS: I like to use semicolons.
ERB: ^Me too. A great teacher in high school taught us how; however, they must be used correctly.
PS: Semi-colons cause inexperienced writers so many problems. I tend toward Vonnegut’s view: they are the hermaphrodites of punctuation and are best avoided. However, they can be used sparingly if you are certain that you know what to do with them.
CF: LOL I so want to share this with someone in particular, but I won’t. Yeah, I used “so” as an adverb. *snort*
BJC: Amen, brother. I share his soapbox.
SWN: Thar’s no substute fer elegance.
DS: And SWN, semicolons are the epitome of elegance.
MKL: I see in the narrative of my 3pp single-spaced grant proposal I have two semicolons, properly used; I also have a handful of semicolons used (properly) to separate items in a list.
ERB: I don’t recall: did William Faulkner use semi-colons?
ERB: Then there is this: “7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to” --- um?
MKL: Jane Austen and Dickens certainly did. But they used them not only correctly, but brilliantly. That kind of semicolon usage makes my heart leap for joy.
CdS: ^ERB: lol. Seven Grammar Rules to Which You Should Really Pay Attention? :^) .
SWN: Grace Kelley was a semicolon, the epitome of elegance. My Mother liked High Society; It seemed to embody her farm girl's aspiration to get away from the farm. My Dad wore that vinyl out on the Hi-Fi. I was a smitten 6. My Mother aspired for me to learn elegance so she sent me to ballroom dancing for three consecutive winter seasons; I had a fourth 1st year in boarding school. I learned to waltz, foxtrot, rumba, attend my date, and to be the musical chairs champion loser; I was so polite and the round and round felt so competitive in the midst of the training.
Lets have a semicolon party! We could invite Marcel Proust, did he use semicolons?, and pretend we’re elegant.
CdS: How refreshing to read a string of comments on punctuation! I am a fan of the properly used semicolon.
ERB: ^MKL: Maura my dear, you’ve nearly gone viral.
SWN: Yeh, I’m gonna cut & paste the string into SWN.
MLK: Who have thought (sic) that semicolons could stir such passions?
ES: Bad parallelism drives me crazy. I see it *everywhere*. And I have an adult, college-educated friend who will say, e.g., “Me and Sue went to the store.” ???! “Lay” vs. “lie” was a lost battle 20 years ago, but I’m still holding the line...
People are so passionate about the semicolon. SweetWillianNow feels the semi-colon creates more pause than a comma, but less than a period; it’s perfectly suited for blog entries.